Oklahoma City Thunder

Offseason Outlook: What's next for the Oklahoma City Thunder?

We've reached the point of the season where teams are starting to be eliminated from the playoffs.

The first three teams to be eliminated? The Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder.

After looking at the Timberwolves and Rockets, we shift our focus to the Thunder…

Upcoming free agents

The only player on the Thunder who is set to be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason is Mike Muscala, who has appeared in only 35 games this season.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Tony Bradley and Josh Hall, meanwhile, will be restricted free agents, giving the Thunder final say on whether or not they return next season.

Thunder players set to be free agents (2021)
Unrestricted Free Agent(s) Restricted Free Agent(s)
Mike Muscala Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
Tony Bradley
Josh Hall

Moses Brown, who has played well since becoming Oklahoma City's starting centre to the tune of 9.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, was also set to be a restricted free agent at the season's end, but the Thunder reportedly signed him to a four-year, $6.8 million contract at the end of March.

With only $55.5 million committed to their roster for next season, the Thunder will have a lot of cap space to work with in the offseason.

Next offseason will be the interesting one for the Thunder, as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is set to be a restricted free agent.

- Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)

The 2021 NBA Draft

Oklahoma City currently has a 39.5 percent chance of landing a top-four pick, per Tankathon.

If the Rockets' pick falls outside of the top four, the Thunder have the right to execute a pick swap to earn the higher pick as a result of the Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade of 2019. In addition to that pick swap, the Thunder also own the Miami Heat's first-round pick in 2021, which should fall in the top 20.

It's no secret that there is a clear-cut top five in the upcoming NBA Draft, and a top-five pick for OKC would accelerate the rebuild of a franchise that has 34 future draft picks over the next seven drafts.

Given the fluidity of the personnel on the Thunder's roster, the team can afford to take the best player available at their spot, be it a 6-foot-7 point guard in Cade Cunningham, a 7-foot big man Evan Mobley or a 6-foot-8 forward in Jonathan Kuminga.

Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs aren't bad options, either.

SCOUTING REPORTS: Cunningham | Kuminga | Green | Suggs

OKC has one of the more fun, youthful rosters in the league, centred around 22-year-old Gilgeous-Alexander, a combo guard himself that has made a leap in Year 2. Sam Presti has plenty of draft capital for the future and his lottery selection in the upcoming draft will give a great idea of the direction the team plans to head.

- Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)

One burning question

So … what about Al Horford?

In order to acquire draft capital, the Thunder have brought on some players with rather large contracts that were perceived to be "immovable." The risk paid off in the lone year of the Chris Paul era, while the Horford era is yet to be determined.

Soon to be 35, Horford has two years and $53.5 million remaining on a four-year deal he originally signed with the Philadelphia 76ers back in 2019. In his first year with the Thunder, Horford was solid, posting averages of 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists before he and the franchise came to a mutual agreement for him to sit out for the remainder of the season in late March.

As things are amicable between the two parties, it leads me to wonder if Oklahoma City will be able to negotiate a deal with the veteran or find a suitor in the offseason. Perhaps it's an anticlimactic release but the potential of a trade that moves plenty of salary is definitely on the table.

It's part of a bigger storyline that sees the Thunder get involved in even more deals this summer. They were certainly busy in 2020 and have a bevy of picks to show for it.

- Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)

One key stat

Prior to suffering a foot injury, Gilgeous-Alexander was averaging 25.2 drives per game. Not only was that the highest mark in the league, it's the most anyone in the league has averaged in the eight seasons the NBA has been tracking the stat. Gilgeous-Alexander was an efficient scorer on those drives as well. In shooting 55.4 percent, he was on the same page as the likes of Kyrie Irving (55.4 percent), Kawhi Leonard (55.6 percent) and Stephen Curry (56.5 percent).

Bonus stat: Luguentz Dort has a matchup difficult rating of 100.0 to this point of the season, according to BBall Index. Only three other players share the same rating: New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, LA Clippers guard Patrick Beverley and Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale.

- Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

lamelo ball
Muggsy on LaMelo: 'The guys love playing with him'
Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard
How long will the Trail Blazers be without Lillard?
Scott Rafferty
NBA
Bulls, Heat penalized for early free agent talks
Official Release
Devin Booker
Latest injury updates on Devin Booker
Yash Matange
Scottie-Barnes-FTR
Barnes already improving biggest weakness
Kyle Irving
NBASoundFTR
Soundsystem: Warriors or Suns, who's the best team in West?
NBA.com Staff
More News